In Memoriam – Thomas Bein

Florence, MA — Thomas Bein, of Florence, a loving husband, father, and brother, died April 11 of complications following chemotherapy for colon cancer. Born in Brussels, Belgium on April 16, 1948 to Sidonia and Tibor Bein—Hungarian Jews who survived Auschwitz—he lived in France, Israel, and Canada before moving to Brooklyn at age six and Mineola, Long Island at 12. Though his first language was Yiddish and he started school in Toronto knowing no English, Tom attended the Stony Brook University on a scholarship, graduating in 1970 and earning a master’s degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin in 1974.

While at Wisconsin, he was active in the United Farm Workers movement, an early step in his lifelong commitment to social justice. Throughout a forty-year career as a licensed social worker in elder care, specialized nursing facilities, and crisis services, Tom worked to maintain the dignity of the elderly and those suffering from mental health issues. While the concept was still new, he developed adult day health centers in Dorchester and North Adams to allow frail elders to live at home away from institutional settings. Most recently he worked for fifteen years at the Farren Care Center in Turners Falls.

Tom met his wife of 37 years, Martha Coons, in Boston, and together they raised three children in Williamstown and Northampton. A dedicated father, he often worked two jobs to provide for his family, faithfully attended twenty years of his kids’ ballgames, music recitals, and yo-yo competitions, and took pride in even their smallest accomplishments. As a young man, he traveled widely in south and central America and eastern Europe. In his retirement, he traveled with family to Argentina to visit his aunt, who survived the Holocaust, and three generations of her descendants.

In addition to his wife, Tom is survived by his sons—Noah, Joel, and Ethan—Ethan’s fiance Beka Lapwood, his sister Arlene Cahn and her husband Rob of Clarksville, Maryland, along with many beloved in-laws, nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Tom cared most about his parents and their history, his work caring for vulnerable elders, and his family. He spent his final days surrounded by loved ones, eating Chinese takeout, and watching his Red Sox play the Yankees. He was buried at a family service at the Hebrew Society Cemetery in Northampton, with a memorial service to follow. Donations in his memory may be made to the Northampton Survival Center, where he volunteered.

Published by Daily Hampshire Gazette on Apr. 23, 2022.